Studies have found that the IL-23/Th17 pathway plays an important role in the pathogenesis of atopic dermatitis (AD) and severe and steroid-resistant asthma. Targeting IL-23/Th17 pathway with monoclonal antibodies (mAb) has been successful in the reduction of skin and airway inflammation in animal models. However, the mAb has a short half-life, requiring repeated administrations. For the long-term suppression of IL-23/Th17 pathway, we have previously developed an IL-23p40 peptide-based virus-like particle vaccine, which induces long-lasting autoantibodies to IL-23.
We sought to evaluate the effects of this IL-23p40 peptide-based vaccine on the down-regulation of allergic skin and airway inflammation in mice.
Mice were subcutaneously injected three times with the IL-23p40 vaccine, or the vaccine carrier protein or saline as controls. Two weeks later, mice were epicutaneously sensitized with ovalbumin four times at a 2-week interval. One week after the final sensitization, mice were nasally administrated with ovalbumin daily for 3 days. One day later, bronchoalveolar lavage fluids (BALF), sera, lung and skin tissues were obtained and analysed.
Mice immunized with the vaccine produced high levels of IgG antibodies to IL-23, p40 and IL-12 that in vitro inhibited IL-23-dependent IL-17 production. The numbers of total cells, neutrophils, and eosinophils in BALF were significantly reduced in the vaccine group, compared with controls. The levels of IL-13, IL-5, IL-23 and, IL-17 in BALF and levels of serum ovalbumin-specific IgE, IgG1, and total IgE were also significantly decreased. Histological analysis showed less inflammation of the lung and skin tissues in the vaccine group, compared with controls.
Conclusion and Clinical Relevance
Administration of an IL-23p40 peptide-based vaccine down-regulates allergic skin and airway inflammation, suggesting that this strategy may be a potential therapeutic approach in the treatment of AD and asthma.